Handling Archival Records

Items in State Records’ collection are unique and irreplaceable. Some records are fragile because of their age and physical format, and frequent handling increases the risk of damage to them. Access to records is provided on the basis that they are managed and protected to ensure their availability in the future.

Guidelines to handling archives 

Observing the following guidelines will help prevent damage to the records:

  • Ensure hands are clean and free from any hand lotions and moisturisers. These can cause paper to stain.
  • Do not lick fingers to turn pages.
  • Do not force open a volume or file. If you are unable to obtain information from a tightly bound spine or fastener, please talk to Research Centre staff.
  • Do not lean on records.
  • Do not trace from any records or use them as support for writing.Do not stack open files or place files within other files. This places unnecessary pressure on the file or volume spine.
  • Do not use 'Post-it notes' or bulky objects as place markers. Use clean white paper if you need to flag a page.
  • Do not underline, highlight or mark archival records in any way.
  • Do not fold pages or folios.
  • Do not release or remove any material from files.
  • Bring items in poor condition to the attention of Research Centre staff. This includes instances of mould and insect damage.

Accessing fragile records

Reference copies may be made available if a record is fragile or in an unsuitable condition for handling. Alternatively, researchers may be asked to view a fragile item under the supervision of Research Centre staff.

Some records have been reproduced on microform to prevent further deterioration of the originals. For research purposes, we request that researchers use the microform version of a record if one is available.

Withholding access to fragile records

Access may be withheld when a record is severely degraded. On the rare occasions when this occurs, researchers will be given a statement explaining why access cannot be provided.

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